Future of Education for the MR Industry

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thanks for the photo, PearlsofJannah
This week, a panel at the Digital Non-Conference in Cincinnati focused on the future of higher education and how to better meet the professional needs of exiting students.  Glenn Platt of Miami University hosted the panel.  He's been looking into this topic for a while, with colleague Peg Faimon of Miami University.  The two posit that the role of the university should be to cultivate learning experiences.  Interesting...I've often talked about the role of the research consultant being to do just that.  Market research consultants aren't just responsible for "getting through the focus group."

The panel featured a variety of folks from creative agencies.  They talked about competencies needed today: the hard technical skills and the soft people skills.  A successful hire has to be willing to embrace ambiguity and work through it, often making a path where there isn't a direct handbook for it.

I tried an experiment of sorts over the past two years.  I worked with an undergrad with social media, communication and business education for a year.  She inspired me with new social media thinking and picked up innovation trench work (specifically developing process, trying out and implementing new products) with me.  I believe that I taught her much about client management, using analogous inspiration in developing new ideas and cultivated a sense of confidence in building a new path in uncharted territory, all skills required of anyone in a any sort of creative profession.  So, the relationship was mutually beneficial.  In fact, we developed a few products that are in market today together.  In fact, it worked so well that I repeated the process with another undergrad.

The future of market research proves to be even more difficult to hire for in comparison to what advertising agencies are facing.  The multitude of hard and soft skills needed is incomprehensible.  Yes, higher education will need to change for this, but I see the sort of model I outlined above as a great on-ramp into the industry.

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